If nothing else, $44 billion has bought Twitter power-user Elon Musk’s status as the No. 1 most-followed account on the social network.
As of Thursday morning, Musk had 133.088 million users — up more than 20% since closing the Twitter deal last October. This pushed the billionaire past the previously most followed account, Barack Obama, who currently has around 133.042 million followers.
(Of course, this is according to public counters operated by Twitter, which Musk controls.) Musk, a self-proclaimed free-speech “autocrat,” is notorious for posting memes and jokes on Twitter. (Prior to his acquisition, according to Twitter’s legal team, Musk also used the service to disparage the company and its employees.)
Musk has claimed that he bought the company not “to make more money” but “to try to help humanity, which I love.” He has also said that he was “clearly overpaid” for Twitter.
Under Musk, Twitter has been radically transformed. He has reduced Twitter’s workforce by more than 70%, from 7,500 to less than 2,000; reinstated several users banned under Twitter’s previous regime, including Donald Trump; and is ending Twitter’s legacy verification program, effective April 1, at which time only paying customers will be eligible for the blue check-mark badge.
Musk has said that given Twitter’s decline in advertising revenue and the additional debt payments it will make (about $12.5 billion in debt is needed to complete the transaction), the company could be bankrupt within four months. . Musk said earlier this month at the 2023 Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that the situation required “immediate and drastic action”.
With layoffs and other cost-cutting, Twitter has reduced its annual burn rate by $1.5 billion (excluding $1.5 billion in debt payments) to less than $4.5 billion, while delivering “the fastest product development in Twitter history”.
Musk is now No. 1 on Twitter, but he’s no longer the richest person on Earth after the value of his Tesla stock holdings plummeted last year. The tech mogul is the second-richest person in the world (currently with a net worth of $194.6 billion) behind luxury-brand mogul Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton ($219.8 billion), according to Forbes’ Billionaires Index.
Following Musk and Barack Obama, the most followed Twitter accounts currently are Justin Bieber (113.3 million), Katy Perry (108.4 million), Rihanna (108.3 million), Cristiano Ronaldo (108.2 million) and Taylor Swift (92.5 million).
[Twitter owner Elon Musk is now the most followed person on Twitter.]